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Sky's the Limit

A runaway campaign to buy cheap plane tickets starts with persuasion.


Setting: Conference room of a small ad agency in Shockoe Slip.

Bob: We all know why we're here. The Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce has given us $600,000 to convince Richmond it needs to start buying cheap airline tickets.

Margaret: Like on Orbitz.com?

Bob: No, here at the airport.

Chad: So people just won't stop buying expensive airline tickets?

Bob: Yes, it seems like the data reflects that. When given the opportunity, our studies show that 87 percent of residents prefer to pay higher airfare whenever possible. My guess is that in this tight economy, people really want to be able to splurge now and then on a luxury item. Like, say, a trip to Hawaii.

Margaret: That's where I went last year with my Christmas bonus. So nice!

Chad: We all remember the tan you came back with, Margaret. So I wonder if business travelers also want to spend more on airfare?

Bob: It seems like the data reflects that.

Chad: Makes sense. Spending more helps everyone feel a little better about the bottom line. Sometimes, when you scrimp on your employees, they start worrying about the health of the company.

Bob: Exactly.

Margaret: So how can we possibly convince people to pay less to fly?

Chad: Whatever we do, we need to act fast. Who knows what's gonna happen to JetBlue, and we're holding onto AirTran by a thread. So, anyone know why people might want to book cheap fares on airlines?

Susan: From a creative standpoint, our ads really need to hit you in the face. A zinger. With a social media component of course. Something obvious, with an aha moment. You know, AirTran flies to Atlanta a lot. We could convince people that even if they pay for a cheap ticket there, they can still have fun.

Bob: Yes! Now we're rolling.

Chad: Olympics! They had the Olympics in Atlanta.

Margaret: Right! But oh, don't forget the bombing.

Susan: Ooh, right. We'll have to get around those negatives.

Bob: Let's not get bogged down in the details. I like where we're headed here. Atlanta also has Coke. Warm weather. Anderson Cooper.

Margaret: Anderson Cooper! I love him. So maybe a celebrity tie-in?

Chad: What about him and Kathy Griffin? They host the CNN New Year's Eve special. She's hilarious.

Margaret: And she's cheap, apparently. That's her shtick. And she flies a lot!

Bob: What else is there about Atlanta?

Chad: Well there's the history. Civil rights. Martin Luther King Jr.

Bob: Ugh, boring. And y'all, if we can't sell history in Richmond, we're not gonna sell it in Atlanta.

Chad: Yeah, maybe you're right. How about sports? Or wait! Reality TV. That's hot now. “The Real Housewives” films in Atlanta.

Susan: OK. Kathy Griffin and Anderson, holding Cokes. Let's put them in the living room of one of those housewives. Like, celebrities in a real homey situation. Something we can relate to. Like, hey we're rich but we're not afraid to get down with the common people.

Bob: Yes, the chamber's board members will relate.

Margaret: Does Coke still use the “real thing” tag line?

Bob: Not sure — check into that, Susan.

Susan: So anyway, they're in the living room, and a traveler from Richmond walks in the front door, joins the party. They hand over a Coke, take his bags. Maybe pat him down, like the TSA. …

Bob: Ooh, topic reference. Funny. I like it.

Susan: ... And they say, “Hey there! Welcome to Atlanta!”

Chad: And Kathy says, “We're fun, for cheap. But we'll make you feel like you paid a million dollars for that airline ticket.”

Bob: It'll be close to that if this campaign doesn't work.

Chad: Then we fade to black, and the tag line hits: Save Richmond. Visit Atlanta.

Margaret: I just got chills.

Chad: By the way, anyone know where that $600,000 came from?

Bob: Who cares? This agency could use the cash. This economy's been rough. S

Jason Roop is Style Weekly's editor in chief.

Opinions expressed on the Back Page are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Style Weekly.


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